Thursday 30 April 2015

What my Marketing Manager said ...

I have a new Marketing Manager and Public Relations Adviser. You can see his photo above.

We met today to discuss ways of promoting my books and how to get help from my loyal readers to pass the word around about my books and recommend them to other potential readers.

The conversation went something like this:

Marketing Manager: You must stop monkeying around Vic and take this question of book promotions seriously.

I didn't pay much attention as I was eating some monkey nuts at the time. He threw a banana at me to get my attention and asked: How many books have you got published so far?

Me: Seventeen - and a cartoon one available to download FREE from my website (HERE).

He stopped and scratched his armpit for a while and then said: Seventeen? You have a lot to say for yourself. Are they all available online as well as in the shops?

Me: Yes, some are available in paperback and Kindle format, whilst others are available in Kindle format only (FROM HERE).

Marketing Manager: How many are available in paperback?

Me: Four of them - "Visions", "The Priest and Prostitute", "To Love a Priest" and "God's Shepherd". They are also available in Kindle version.

Marketing Manager: Good ... have you had any feedback from your readers. And I don't mean have they sent you bananas and peanuts!

Me: Yes, some have e-mailed me saying they liked the books, others have left reviews on the AMAZON website.

Marketing Manager: Why don't you encourage them to write more reviews on Amazon for you?

Me: How? Anyway, I don't want to impose.

Marketing Manager: You're not imposing you ape! If your readers genuinely like what you write they'll be happy to spread the word for you.

Here's what I suggest. Ask them to read any of your books. The serious ones or any of the humourous ones - they seem very inexpensive.

Once they have read any of your books they should then leave a review on AMAZON. Just like others have done (HERE).

They should of course tell you they have left a review.

At the end of the month put the names of all those who have reviewed a book in a hat. And then pull out two names.

Send those two people one of your paperback books signed by you. They can choose which of the four paperback books they like.

If someone reviews two or more of your books on AMAZON put their name in the hat twice or as many times as they've reviewed a book to give them more chances to win.

Me: Sounds a good idea!

Marketing Manager: What are you waiting for you big gorilla? Get on with it! And pass me another banana. Oh ... and another thing. Ask your readers to mention this promotion on their Blogs, their Facebooks or their Google+, or whatever other media they are on. Most readers are kind and nice people and they might mention you if you ask nicely. And say "Please".

Me: Over to you dear readers. Please do as the monkey suggests and let me know what you've reviewed. Thanx. Do you want a peanut?

Saturday 25 April 2015

Rescue Drive

For a few days Father Ignatius had been thinking over his conversation with Father Donald about the dream he had.

In the dream, St Peter asked Father Ignatius directly, ‘Have you done a good job of looking after Our Lord’s lambs and sheep?’

“What a challenge!” thought Father Ignatius, “St Peter himself asking me if I was a good priest!”

Jack lived a few yards down the road from St Vincent Church, just the other side of the Convent.

One Friday evening he was waiting outside the Fish and Chips Shop just opposite the church when Father Ignatius joined the queue.

“How are you keeping Jack?” he asked, “you look really miserable right now … just like a mile of bad road, I should say!”

“Hello Father …” mumbled Jack under his breath, “it’s a long story!”

“You’d better tell me about it … let’s move away from this queue …”

The two men left the queue and walked a few paces away from the shop.

“It’s this friend of mine …” Jack said hesitantly, “he’s over seventy years old, lives in Brintown, and he’s not too well. I think he’s dying. I spoke to the lady friend he lives with and she said the doctor is not holding much hope. I’ll go and see him tomorrow as I’m not working this weekend … I hope I get there in time …”

“I’ll pray for him Jack. I notice you said lady friend … is he not married then?”

“Oh … that’s another long story Father.” said Jack, “Many years ago, when he was thirty or so, he met this lady and fell in love with her. She was divorced and his priest would not marry them. In fact he argued the matter with the priest and the priest excommunicated him.

“I think he probably excommunicated her as well … I don’t know.

“Anyway, they’ve lived together ever since … that’s about forty years. I don’t know if they ever got married in the Civil Court.

“But the man kept faithful to the ban imposed on him. He didn’t move to another church and take Communion there, even though they moved town several times. In fact I believe he never set foot in another church ever since that day!”

“We’d better go and see them then …” said the priest.

“What now … it’s five o’clock. It will take us two hours to get to Brintown!”

“The sooner we start the better,” replied Father Ignatius, “you go to my office and phone them from there. I’ll get the car ready!”

Moments later Father Ignatius was driving up the highway as fast as the speed limit allowed.

They arrived just after 7:30 that evening. Father Ignatius went to see the old man in his bedroom whilst Jack stayed with the old lady in the front room.

They could hear talk, and sometimes laughter from the bedroom. The priest stayed there for a while. He heard the old man’s Confession and gave him Holy Communion. Then they chatted away about the past … the old man had spent some time in Italy, not far from where Father Ignatius studied for the priesthood, so they talked about Italy and all the places they visited whilst there.

Eventually the priest came out and asked Jack to go and stay with the old man.

He heard the old lady’s Confession and gave her Holy Communion.

Father Ignatius and Jack set off back home at about 10:45 that evening. In the car, on the way to St Vincent, Jack said, “Thank you Father … being with you is like being with Jesus!”

“Don’t ever say that,” replied the priest, “no one can possibly be like Jesus!”

The old man died three days later.

The old lady also died a few months after that.

(Based on a true story).

Saturday 18 April 2015

Marriage Divorce Annulment

A few months after Joanna Hill was introduced to George Lomas by Father Ignatius, the couple fell deeply in love.

One evening they visited Father Ignatius in the Parish House, and after they had settled down to tea and biscuits George said:

“Father, we have some good news. Joanna and I are in love and we would like to get married. We hope you’ll do the honours, so to speak.”

“That’s good news for you two,” said the priest gently, “but there’s some difficulty with me officiating at your wedding.”

“I don’t understand,” said Joanna somewhat concerned at the news.

“You are divorced Joanna,” said Father Ignatius in his gentle voice, “the Catholic Church does not recognize your divorce. You are still married and therefore you cannot marry again in Church.”

“What do you mean?” said George, “she is properly divorced in Court.”

“Yes, that may well be so,” continued the priest, “that’s a civil divorce, but unless the marriage was annulled by the Church she is still married. The Church bases its teaching on the words of Christ: ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her: and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery,’ ”

“But that’s crazy,” interrupted George raising his voice a little, “are you saying that if I, as a single man never having been married … if I go around with various women, you’d forgive me in Confession. But if she marries me you’re accusing her of the graver sin of adultery?”

“Joanna was married in a Catholic Church, this one I believe, to a Catholic man, and her being Catholic,” explained the priest still maintaining his composure, “this being the case, and seeing that the marriage was not annulled by the Church, then she is still married in the eyes of God and the Church.”

“Hold on a minute,” George interrupted again, not noticing for a moment that poor Joanna was wiping her tears silently, “you said she married in a Catholic Church. So if she had married in an Anglican Church, or any other church, you would not have recognized the marriage?”

“That is strictly true,” said Father Ignatius, “if Joanna as a Catholic had married in an Anglican Church without the permission of the Catholic Church, and without the presence of a Catholic priest, then that marriage would not have been valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. It then follows that her civil divorce would not have been recognised either and in all probability she would have been able to marry again in the Catholic Church.”

“This is totally mad,” said George getting a little angry, and still ignoring Joanna, “she married at 19 Father, and divorced her husband when she was 22. She was a mere child when he walked out on her and left her holding the baby … literally.

“That was over ten years ago Father. At the time she hardly cared about the Catholic Church. She was really distraught at having been abandonned by her husband and the last thing on her mind was to seek annulment. She tried to get her life together again and raised a baby on her own. Anyway, from what I hear annulments can take a long time and are worse than the Spanish Inquisition ...”

“George … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly.

“I’m sorry love,” he replied holding her hand gently, “I hate to see the Church … our Church … mistreat you so!

“I’m sorry Father for getting angry,” he apologized to the priest, “but you can see our dilemma.

“For whatever reason, regardless of who was innocent and who was at fault, this young couple in their early twenties divorced in a Civil Court.

“Is the Church seriously suggesting that Joanna cannot be intimate with a man for the rest of her life? Or else you’ll accuse her of adultery? Is that reasonable Father?

“Or do you want her to come to confess every time the two of us go to bed when we’re married?”

“Stop it … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly, “this has gone too far … I want to go home …”

She stood up and made her way out of the room followed by George.

Father Ignatius followed them silently to the front door, not having the chance to explain himself or the Church’s position.

The couple married in the Civil Court three months later.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Déjà vu Titian

 Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian in English

My loyal readers, to whom I am most grateful, will remember that last year I ran a series of posts about classical painters and their famous masterpieces. It was a successful series with a number of readers contributing suggestions for paintings to be critiqued by myself - a self-proclaimed art critic. More suggestions welcome!

One such artist we studied together is Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian in English. He was famous for his mastery of the paintbrush as you can see from his self portrait above painted in about 1567.

Now one thing I need to say as your advisor in such artistic matters is that in my opinion this could not possibly be a self-portrait of the grand master. This is because the painting is done in profile.

At the time when Titian is supposed to have painted it they did not have cameras; and the only way that he could have known what he looked like is by looking at a mirror face on - full frontal. There is no way he could have looked at his profile in a mirror and paint the masterpiece at the same time. Not unless he had the paint brush firmly stuck in his ear and he painted by standing sideways to the canvas. Either that, or someone else painted the picture which would not make it a self-portrait.

Please contain your self-amazement at my prowess a little longer as I go on.

One of Titian's famous paintings is "Venus and Organist and Little Dog" painted in 1550 (ten to four in the afternoon for those of you unfamiliar with the 24 hour clock).

I really cannot imagine what possessed Titian to paint such a scene. Portrays of nudes have long been common amongst famous painters and photographers. So asking a model to lie down naked on a bed would not have been that difficult for a master like Titian. Suggesting that she has a little dog by her side would have been easy too. But how exactly did he manage to convince her it would be a good idea to have a man sitting beside the bed playing with his organ? And its not as if the man is playing casually looking at the music sheet in front of him. No, this guy knows the tune by heart, so he is leaning backwards to have a good look at something more interesting. Her bracelet perhaps! And she doesn't seem to mind.

I wonder how many times they had to pose for him like that. And with an open window behind her so that the gardener could have a good look whilst mowing the lawn. 

Now what I've discovered in my research on your behalf is that Titian must have really enjoyed painting this particular scene. So much so that no sooner he had finished he tried painting it all over again. See below.

This time he made the colours more vivid in order to bring out all the mastery of brush strokes for which he was so famous. He used the same model of course and convinced her that it would be more pleasing to the eye of the beholder (i.e. his) if she were to lose a bit of weight. (Compare the two pictures).

He also asked her to look up to a little Cupid character rather than down at the dog as previously.

Unfortunately he could not convince the man (a different person wearing different clothes and with no sword) to look forward whilst playing his organ. He too prefered to lean back and admire the bracelet which the model is wearing. That's his excuse and he is sticking to it!

Can you see the gardener in red by the trees on the left?

Not quite satisfied with this version of events, Titian had another go as we can admire below.

In this picture he added a different dog to the scene and asked the same model to lean slightly more forward. She must have felt a little cold by now because she asked to be covered (somewhat modestly) with a very tiny transparent curtain netting to keep her warm. Note that the little Cupid seems friendlier in this picture and seems to have a wandering hand compared to before. No wonder the dog is upset; with his jaw dropping he is asking what's all this about!

In this painting Titian uses yet another much younger man to play the organ. This is because the other two had to retire with a stiff neck having to look backwards. Despite being warned this fellow too claims that he is only admiring the model's necklace (not bracelet). Likely story! (Note how his eyes point at a different direction compared to the previous two paintings).

You'll also notice that Titian has changed the background from a garden to an open plain with a whole village in centre stage so that the inhabitants can also have a good look with their binoculars.

Yet, not totally satisfied with his efforts, our master had another go at the same painting.

On the face of it, (that is if you are looking at the face of any of the characters), this appears to be a totally different painting. But it is not.

The same model, having got enough of the dogs all over her bed, and various organists ogling her, insists to Titian that they must go away.

"I will not pose nude with organists looking at me!" she says as she takes her clothes off. 
Titian agrees and gets rid of the dog and replaces the organist with a lute player.

Drat! The silly woman should have been more specific.

To be fair, the lute player is much younger than all of the organists before him, so he is less likely to get neck cramp sitting in that twisted position. The model is holding a stick in her hand in case the amourous lute player comes too close. And her legs are well positioned to give him a good kick in the kidneys, just in case.  

You'll note that Titian changed the background scenery once again.

But this was not enough. Titian wanted to try one more time.

But this time the model finally has her way. She insists that there are no men at all sitting there watching her rude bits. She agrees to dispense with the net curtain covering her as long as the Cupid fellow keeps his hand well away ... or else.

"And keep the dog well away by my feet!" she tells Titian.

He agrees. But asks, "Can I have my pet pigeon on the window behind you?"

"Oh OK ..." she answers, "as long as he doesn't fly and peck at my backside!"

And here you have it. Titian's famous painting of Venus and Coo Coo his pet pigeon.

As you'll appreciate, dear readers, one has to wonder whether Titian painted all these paintings himself, (the model appears to be the same in all of them), or whether he painted one scene and other painters painted the rest.

If that were the case, then all the copies are just imitations of the one the master himself painted. But which is which? How can we tell which one is the original?

I don't know.

In order to find out whether it is possible to paint just like Titian I thought I'd give it a go. Not to be outdone I searched for my paint brush and palette of colours; I hired a model to pose for me, and promised her that there would be no organists or lute players ogling at her every aspect.

She agreed.

I hope you like the end result of my efforts ....

Monday 13 April 2015


Nostalgia these days isn't what it used to be.

Time was, back in the day, when nostalgia was people getting together and reminiscing about old times perhaps fondly or maybe not. These days, however, nostalgia is sharing the latest text or selfie-photo you've just received on your cell phone. Everything is so instant, even memories.

You take a photo and you got it on your screen in seconds. No need to send the film for development and printing, and waiting in anticipation as to how many photos you took badly or are over or under exposed. Today, the only thing they expose in the photos is their bodies.

How many people I wonder remember those far off days when life was in black and white and sound was in mono?

Back then everything was in black and white, or in sepia color, depending on how old you really were. I recall a story that on a snowy day a man wearing a white coat went out for a walk and was knocked down by a snow plough.

This wouldn't happen today with all the vibrant colours we wear which need a special washing powder to make them even more brilliant and soft to the touch. Back then there was no clothes' softener; and people washed their hair shirts by hand, not in a contraption invented to lose your socks; or turn all your clothes pink if you put a red item in it.

I'm told, (because I'm not that old, you see), that in those olden days before stereo sound, or quadrophonic, or whatever else multi-sound is called these days, - back then people talked in mono; and if they were standing on your left you heard them with your left ear, and vice versa if they stood on the other side of you.

It was simple. People talked from their mouth on your left or right and you heard them. Unlike now when people seem to talk from more than one orifice in their bodies and make no sense whatsoever.

Back then in nostalgia times, if you wanted to listen to music you bought big black vinyl discs which you scratched with a needle to hear beautiful balads sang by talented artists gifted with masterful voices. Today people listen to music on small devices no bigger than a match box; and if you happen to lose it, you've lost your entire collection of noise which you have spent hours to collect and cherish.

Another thing I've noticed in today's non-nostalgia world is that people seem to have a fondness, addiction in some cases, of telling each other about themselves every few minutes. They go on social media websites and tell each other inane information like the fact they've just woken up, had breakfast, washed their armpits, and all other things which back in the day we kept privately to ourselves. What's all that about? What is the point of telling a whole load of people personal stuff that is of no interest to man or beast?

I'm not a member of any social media site. In order to appear trendy I walk in the streets, or when on the bus or train, and every so often I say something out loud about myself for no apparent reason.

I make short statements of no more than 180 letters, like "My shoes hurt!" "I need a haircut." "My trousers itch in unusual places." 

At first it astounded those around me. But now I have three followers - all wearing white coats.

In olden times, if you needed something you got to the shop and bought it. Now you can buy almost anything online. Which is a convenient and a good thing I suppose. But here's the catch. Having bought something you are then bombarded by e-mails asking you to review what you've just bought.

"We note you've bought a shirt. Tell us about your enjoyable experience. Did it live up to your expectations? Did you like the item you bought? How did you use it?"

I'll tell you how I used it. I put it in a bucket of soapy water and washed the car with it, that's how.

The other day I bought online a small radio/alarm clock. Now I keep getting e-mails from the trader inviting me to buy other clock/radios of every size, colour, and uselessness. How many clock/radio should a man need?

I tell you. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Sin of ommission

I really must apoligise to one of my Blog readers, LULU, for not saying thank you much earlier.

There I was the other day searching for various items on that great website AMAZON when it occurred to me that I needed another copy or two of my latest book "To Love A Priest".

I went to the usual page where all my books are listed and to my surprise I discovered that someone had left a customer review and gave my book 5 STARS. Wow ... I thought. 5 STARS - must be a relative of mine being kind to me. Check it out here.

I clicked on the book and scrolled further down to find a lovely write-up from Lulu.

Thanx Lulu. I would have thanked you much earlier had I known you'd written so nicely about my book.

To any other readers tempted to write something nice about me on AMAZON please let me know so that I can thank you publicly here. I normally go to the UK Amazon website so I wouldn't know if you've reviewed my books on your own AMAZON sites.

God bless.

Saturday 4 April 2015

EASTER - Lies and Realities

As we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord let us remember that this particular event gave rise to many speculations and rumours all those years ago, and indeed over the years since then.

Let’s consider the facts as we know them.

A man claiming to be the Son of God was crucified and died a most horrible death.

After His death, His followers claimed that He rose from the dead as He had said He would.

Now let’s look at the rumours and the conspiracy theories.

It is possible that Christ’s disciples and followers stole and hid the body of Jesus to perpetuate the story that He is the Son of God and that His Father raised Him from the dead.

But if that were the case; what benefit is there to them to disseminate this story knowing full well that it is a lie? Why suffer persecution, imprisonment, torture and death for something you know to be false? Would you do that?

The other theory is that the Jews, the Sadducees or Pharisees, removed the body in order to stop any beliefs that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God.

But if that were the case; then why not produce the body once the disciples said that Jesus rose from the dead and invalidate the story of the Resurrection right from the start? Isn't that what one would expect in such circumstances?

Another hypothesis is that Christ never died at all. He just lost consciousness or was in a coma, and He woke up once again and walked out of the tomb.

But the Romans were very thorough people. They made sure that those crucified were indeed dead by breaking their legs whilst hanging there. They did not do so to Jesus because when they checked He was already dead. Even so, they did pierce His side with a spear just to make sure.

And then; there is of course the fact:

Christ died on the Cross and rose from the dead.